It’s common knowledge now, that success in general comes simply from putting more hours in and doing more reps than your competition.
I’ve read studies that supposedly *prove* self-discipline is the most important determinant for academic success in college – as opposed to incoming SAT scores or high school grades…
But I submit that outside of the educational system and outside of corporate hierarchies, self-discipline is even MORE IMPORTANT. It’s more pivotal that entrepreneurs, business owners, and yes, parents who are directing the raising and education of their children develop and stick to a personal system or regimen that ensures progress is continually being made.
I know that I myself have to be constantly vigilant against time-wasting and the million or so potential distractions lurking around us.
Even with all my accelerated math students….I find myself spending almost all of my time trying to convince them to ACTUALLY DO MORE MATH when I’d much rather be spending my time teaching the wonderful nuances of the subject. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that math is nothing more than a pure exercise in discipline. And therefore all math struggles are, at root, failures in personal discipline on BOTH the kids’ and parents’ (The kids and parents always blame their teacher!)
But look at something, almost ANYTHING, outside of education. For example, look at the world of dieting and exercise. Everyone knows if they eat more healthy and workout vigorously they will lose fat and gain muscle – but almost nobody can get it done. Almost nobody has the SELF-DISCIPLINE to stick to a regimen. Almost nobody has the determination and the resourcefulness to make the time they need to put in the reps required for meaningful progress. (Check out the 4-Hour Body!)
I hate to sound like a broken-record (Google what that is, young’uns!), but as with my math students, there’a almost nothing as important to talk about as the diligence of our personal work habits. If someone is working hard and going nowhere – which does happen – then, and only then, should methodologies be re-examined and fussed over. Too many parents obsess over *what math curriculum is best* when they should really just pick any one and focus their energies on GETTING THEIR KIDS TO DO THE QUESTIONS.
Alright I’ll end this boring screed by sharing a couple things I’ve learned about myself in regards to self-discipline:
1) I need to get up very, very early in order to productive.
2) I need to go to bed, very, very early.
3) My kids and I both work best at the library, before 3 pm, before the wild school kids show up. We basically need to be FARAWAY from household distractions.
4) Desks and tables need be clean.
5) Eating out and prepared food saves us tons of time (shopping, prep, clean-up) – time that can be more productively employed.
6) Goals and timers need to be set constantly.
In many ways that list reminds me of some vows I made back in college, after a rough first semester. It turned out that it was very hard to study in a dorm room! Nothing in my K-12 education had prepared me for that…
One thing I did, back in college to IMPOSE discipline on myself was to take on a brilliant job. I became a security desk attendant; and I signed up to work at 8 am five days per week (the other two days I enrolled in an early class). At the security desk, not only was I forced to get up early, but I was also able to do my studying and homework WHILE I WAS GETTING PAID. My classmates would crawl out of bed and stagger past me at 10 am just when I was punching out for my shift. My school work was all done….and I was rich ($5.50 an hour!). Like I said, it was pure brilliance on my part!
These are the types of hacks I’m continually looking for. I’m looking for ways to consolidate our activities; for ways to accelerate learning; for ways to basically get more out of everything we do.
It might sound like I have my act together. But if I had to honestly grade myself on self-discipline….I’d only get a 5.5 out 10.